3 Things I Hate About Windows Home Server

Generally speaking, I am very impressed with the Windows Home Server software in general, and my HP MediaSmart Server in particular.  Unlike every other backup solution I have ever tried, it works.  I love having shared space for media.  I love having a mapped network drive for stuff I want to store on the network.  In other words, it just works, with a lovely combination of simplicity and flexibility.

Most of the time.

There are three things about my home server that drive me stark raving mad.

Slow, Unresponsive Console

Number one, by far, is that the Windows Home Server Console, the control panel for the software, is so slow it makes it impossible to do anything.  Every time I try to use it, I see virtual glaciers flying by my desktop window.

It’s bad enough that it takes a minute or two to connect to the server, but that is bearable.  What’s not bearable is to try and click something and have absolutely nothing happen for minutes at a time.  The only other experience I can compare it to is when you’re trying to slog around a recently drained fish pond, with mud up to your knees.  Anyone who has ever drained ponds knows that getting around down there is slow going.

For example, it took me 5 minutes just to check an “Ignore this issue.”  That is beyond insane.  It’s to the point now that I’d rather not use my server to its fullest than to fight a losing battle with the console.  The home server is such a key and potentially useful part of your home network, that fast and reliable should be job one.  Even if it costs more.

Too Many Home Network Health Warnings

In theory, it’s great that the software notifies you when there is a potential problem with one of the network computers.  In practice, however, this feature comes across like Windows User Account Control on meth.  The sheer magnitude of the warnings combined with the slower than freeze-dried molasses console creates gridlock.  Grid. Freaking. Lock.

I ended up taking a number of lesser computers off the network, just so I could go on living my life.

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Backup Failures

Of course, this only happens with my computer, which has the most important stuff on it, but over half of my backups fail, because for some inexplicable reason, “The computer failed to take a snapshot of the volume for backup.”  No shit Sherlock.  A Google search confirms that others are having this problem, but no solution was evident.

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Is There a Solution?

I’m not sure.  I could buy one of the newer servers, which have more memory, and cross my fingers.  Nah.  I could make my own server out of an extra computer, but I’d lose all the stuff on my current server.  I could soldier on, and just take it.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, but this is driving me nuts.

Good and Bad News for Old MediaSmart Servers

I was a very early adopter of the HP Media Smart Server. I bought an EX475 model, upgraded the storage to 4 terabytes and haven’t looked back. Until, that is, I noted that the new version of the MediaSmart Server software (which includes the iPhone media streamer among other goodies) was not compatible with the older models.

That was a bummer.

But today I noted in my feed reading that someone has hacked a way to install the new software on the old machine. I’ve built computers from parts, and I hacked my Mac Mini right after I bought it. So I figured I was good to go.

Until I saw the required steps.

Are you kidding me? That’s looks about on the scale of building a space shuttle in your garage.

I don’t really need the software update. But if I did, I’d buy a new server from Amazon for $585, and move my bigger hard drives to that box. Compared to all that work, $585 seems like a great deal.